The Erie SeaWolves beat the Richmond Flying Squirrels 9-4 at The Diamond Wednesday night. The ‘Wolves are now in first-place in the Eastern League Western Division after the Akron Aeros beat the Altoona Curve 3-1.
The ‘Wolves (23-16) and Squirrels (22-17) came into Wednesday night’s game tied for second-place. Erie sent left-hander Duane Below to the mound against Richmond’s David Mixon.
Erie got off to a hot start in the top of the first inning. Justin Henry led off with a single. Andy Dirks followed with his fifth home run of the season, a shot over the right field wall giving Erie a 2-0 lead.
Below was in control through the first three innings, before running into a little trouble in the bottom of the fourth. Conor Gillaspie led off the fourth with a single. Juan Ciriaco doubled, giving the Squirrels two men in scoring position. Below got Roger Kieschnick to strike out, before giving up back-to-back walks to force home a run and cut the lead to 2-1. Nick Noonan followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the ballgame at 2-2.
The ‘Wolves jumped right back ahead in the top of the fifth. Shawn Roof and Henry started the inning with back-to-singles off of Mixon. Dirks struck again hitting a two-run double. Wilkin Ramirez followed with his league leading ninth home run of the season ending Mixon’s day and giving Erie a 6-2 lead.
Felix Romero came on in relief of Mixon and was immediately greeted by Cesar Nicolas’ fifth home run of the season. Michael Bertram followed with a single, and Josh Burrus walked before Romero got Cale Iorg to pop out for the first out of the inning. Jeff Kunkel’s RBI single ended the scoring and pushed the Erie lead to 8-2. Erie sent seven hitters to the plate before Richmond was able to get the first out of the inning.
The Squirrels tried to get back into the game in the bottom of the fifth. Jay Voss replaced Below, and walked Darren Ford to start the inning. Brandon Crawford followed with a single, and the bases were loaded one batter later after Thomas Neal reached on a Justin Henry error. Gillaspie drove in Ford with a single. Ciriaco followed with a sacrifice fly cutting the Erie lead to 8-4.
Erie tacked on a run in the top of the eighth inning making it 9-4 on a Dirks’ RBI single. It was Dirks 5th RBI of the game.
Andy Shawler (1-0) picked up the win in relief for Erie. He tossed three innings of shut out baseball.
David Mixon (4-2) took the loss for Richmond.
Erie looks for the three game-sweep Thursday morning against the Squirrels. First-pitch is at 10:35 a.m.